December 28, 2008

Results - Fried Cauliflower, Chickpea and Silverbeet Salad

What do you get when you cross a restaurant quality recipe with a healthy option? you get this salad.....

Fried Cauliflower, chickpea and Silverbeet Salad

I really thought this salad was going to be a hit. At Christmas, with so many unhealthy options I thought alot of people would go for it. But I was so wrong. I think I was the only person who enjoyed it. It tasted relatively nice, but maybe it just couldn't compete with the slow cooked roast pork with vegie gravy and spiced chocolate mousse. Not to say the least, I had alot of left overs the next day.
I was really surprised at how easy this recipe was to pull together. From the other recipes I have tried so far, it was by far the least complicated. All the others have either gone wrong in some way shape or form, or they have involved a whole heap of prep work. I was really pleased to be making this at Christmas when everything else needs so much attention.

Massive bowl full of silverbeet

I'm always amazed at how what seems to be a very large amount of leafy greens can shrink to almost nothing. I wilted the silverbeet for just under 5 minutes and this huge bowl reduced to nearly a hand full of goodness.

Deep fried cauliflower

I just had to get a photo of the cauliflower before it entered its salad form. I'm a huge fan of most things deep fried, might explain the inability to find dresses that fit. But fried cauliflower is something from a different world. The smell and taste that it creates is gorgeous. It just transforms from bland and boring (yes....steamed cauliflower is boring!) to crisp and flavoursome. I think I might attempt making a fried cauliflower and leek soup, or a fried cauliflower souffle, the combinations are endless. In my opinion, the cauliflower in this salad made it what it was. Without it, I think it would have been a pretty boring salad.
The next day, I took my huge bowl of left over salad and made myself a repeat of Christmas lunch. It tasted much nicer re-heated, although a little more wilted and crunch-less. I drizzled a little olive oil and some fresh lemon juice and bingo bango, lunch is served.

Left over's are always good!


December 27, 2008

Fried Cauliflower, Chickpea and Silverbeet Salad

Restaurant: Bodega (NSW)

Recipe from Chefs Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz (appears on Gourmet Traveler website)
2009 Rating: Number 64, 1 Star

During christmas its always tradition to over eat and regret it the next day. This year is no exception. However, I thought I would include a healthy option, so at least there would be one item on the table that was guilt free. Bodega's recipe seems to satisfy this criteria.

Serves 6


200 gm dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight and drained
500 ml (2 cups) vegetable oil
1 small (about 800gm) cauliflower, cut into florets, stem discarded
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp cumin seeds
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
400 gm silverbeet leaves, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, juice only


1. Cook chickpeas in boiling salted water for 40 minutes or until tender, then drain and set aside.

2. Heat vegetable oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat until a thermometer reads180C. Fry cauliflower in batches for 5 minutes or until golden, remove and drain on absorbent paper.

3. Heat 50ml olive oil in a large frying pan and cook cumin seeds for 2 minutes or until fragrant, then transfer to a bowl. Add remaining olive oil to pan, add garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until golden. Add silverbeet and cook for 5 minutes or until wilted. Add cumin seeds, chickpeas and cauliflower to pan, stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes or until heated through. Add lemon juice, season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Did the dish get eaten? or was the temptation of guilty food too much for christmas? Stay tuned for the exciting results!

December 26, 2008

Three, One, Two

Dining Date: February 2007

2009 Rating: 14th

2009 Star rating: 2

Chef: Andrew McConnell

Location: 312 Drummond Street, Carlton, Vic (Soon to move to Fitzroy)

Three One Two will soon be moving location from its Drummond Street premises, to a new swanky outfit in Gertrude Street Fitzroy. At this stage, they should be fired up and raring to go by early 2009.

When I last visited, the restaurant was relatively new to 'the list', it had just won best new restaurant and had alot of expectation sitting on its shoulders, at least in my mind. At first impression it completely failed. Spacing between tables was very tight and it made for a very interesting night. We were dining in a large group and were placed directly in front of the door and dead centre of the room, so getting around us was a bit of a squeeze. You could tell the floor manager was anxious, wanting to make sure every customer had a good experience, evident by the wait staff constantly hovering around us, and the manager's ability to eyeball every guest. 

We decided to go for the degustation menu, despite being in a large group. The food in general was great - innovative, unique and extremely pleasing, extra kuto's for obtaining this level of cuisine in a short period of time. My only gripe of the night was the timing of the dishes. I dont know if they were having a bad night, and let's face it even the best restaurants can have off nights, but the whole thing dragged out for way too long. The wait in between courses was almost unbearable. At two separated points, the entire table got up and went outside for something to do. Probably not the best thing to do during a degustation menu, but we just couldn't handle sitting around for any longer.

We were celebrating one members birthday at the time. I had called ahead and asked if I could bring a cake along to celebrate the occasion, they kindly offered to present a cake as an extra dessert course. Boy was I glad I organised the cake! When it first came out we were all a little disappointed at the sight of it. Considering it was the smallest birthday cake I had ever seen and this tiny "cup cake" had to satisfy 7 people. But I was SO wrong!

Once the cake was cut up we all got a thin slice each with ice cream on the side, but that was more than enough. It was the richest most yummiest flourless chocolate cake I have ever had. As soon as everyone took a bite, there was dead silence and only groans of enjoyment coming from each person. A great way to shut everyone up I say. To this day I still fantasize about that cake. It was a great way to top off the evening in my opinion, it made all the waiting in between meals worthwhile.

Flourless Chocolate Birthday Cake

Like the Lake House, I plan on re-visiting Three One Two at their new location. I'm sure they have sorted out the table spacing issue, but hopefully the Chocolate Cake is still on the menu.

December 23, 2008

Results - Roast Peaches with Hoegaarden Ice Cream

For the first time making beer Ice cream, I'm pretty proud of myself. I'm also pretty happy with the fact that the ice cream turned out pretty smooth and fluffy, even thought I don't own or had access to an ice cream machine. You can see a photo of the creation below.

Roast Peaches with Hoegaarden Ice Cream

Like I said in my earlier post, we had a tray of beautifully fresh and fragrant peaches. After caramelising the sugar and then adding them, they created an intense aroma that made me want to fish them straight out of the pan even before they had entered the oven.

Fresh Peaches from Uralla


The recipe called for Hoegaarden beer, but at the moment I'm in country NSW, and all the ingredients I require weren't quite available. Instead of using Hoegaarden, I used Haagen. Haagen is an Australian beer which is brewed in traditional German style. It made for a very beer-y ice cream, and I assume that is the whole point of the ice cream flavour. I'm sure that Hoegaarden can be substituted for any type of beer...pick your favourite and off you go. After tasting it, I immediately thought of Beez Neez, the honey flavour in the beer would make the ice cream take on a slight beer/honey flavour. I also had to leave out the peach schnapps, I could find every other type of schnapps but not peach. I'm one to follow these recipes as closely as possible, considering what the whole point of this exercise is, but in the end the flavour of the peach and caramel was too perfect that I think the schnapps may have ruined it.

Haagen Beer


Pouring the beer into the ice cream base

As I said earlier, I don't have an ice cream machine. I resorted to whipping the mixture every hour for 10 minutes over about 6 hours. It was well worth all the hard work. Although in the very outer edge of the finished product it contained a few icicles, the centre was really creamy and fluffy like most gourmet ice creams. I really had my doubts about 'beer ice cream', but the combination with the roast peaches was fantastic. Colin Fassnidge's imagination to marry these two flavours is brilliant. Never would I have thought these would be great to combine in one dish. I can't wait to make my way to Four in Hand to experience other marriages they have come up with.

To end the post I thought I would include the taste testers reaction to the dessert.

Father in-law: "That was delicious! Well worth the wait" (It took me 45 minutes instead of 20 minutes because I stuffed the caramel....but that's another story)

Mother in-law: "It was superb, completely different to anything I have ever tried!"

Daz: "I'm not the ice-creams biggest fan, peaches were good though" (I can always trust Daz to give an unbiased opinion) 

Me: "I can't believe I pulled that off in one day and in SOMEONE ELSES kitchen!"

One last look at the creation.


December 22, 2008

Roast Peaches with Hoegaarden Ice-cream

Restaurant: Four in Hand (NSW)

Recipe from Chef Colin Fassnidge (appears on Gourmet Traveler website)

2009 Rating: Number 76, 1 Star

At this very moment I'm in country NSW spending christmas with my in-laws. We had a big box of peaches lying around and I thought I might put something together with them. After a quick search on the Gourmet Traveler website, I came across this dessert recipe. Looked to intriguing to pass it up, even though considering I dont have an ice-cream machine at my disposal.

Serves 6 


300 gm caster sugar
6 ripe peaches
100 ml peach schnapps
100 gm butter

Hoegaarden ice-cream

500 ml (2 cups) pouring cream
300 ml milk
150 gm caster sugar
10 egg yolks
4 leaves of gelatine (gold strength), softened in cold water
330 ml Hoegaarden beer

1. For Hoegaarden ice-cream, combine cream, milk, sugar and egg yolks in a saucepan, and whisk until smooth. Stir over medium heat until mixture is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon, remove from heat. Squeeze excess water from gelatine, add to cream mixture and whisk until gelatine dissolves. Cool for 1 hour. Add beer, whisk to combine, strain mixture and freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in freezer until needed. Makes about 1.8 litres.

2. Preheat oven to 200C. Combine sugar and 300ml water in an oven-proof frying pan over medium heat, bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes or until syrup just starts to caramelise. Add peaches and turn to coat in caramel. Place in oven and roast for 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven, place over medium heat and add schnapps and butter. Continue cooking peaches, basting and turning, for 10 minutes or until peaches are golden. Serve peaches drizzled with warm syrup and Hoegaarden ice-cream to the side.

This ones going to be interesting, I've made home made ice-cream by hand before and it turned out a disaster. I will be so glad if I can pull it off! Wish me luck! (Results here)

December 20, 2008

Lake House

Dining Date: February 2007

2009 Rating: 28th

2009 Star rating: 2

Chef: Alla Wolf-Tasker

Location: King Street, Daylesford Vic

When we dined here over a year ago the scenery sharply overtook the dining experience itself. At the time, the Lake House was the number 1 country restaurant in Victoria. We decided to take one of our dear friend along for her birthday. It was beautiful and a perfect way to start off the celebrations. We went along for lunch, and althought the restaurant was not very busy at all, it was nice feeling like you were the only important customers in the whole place. As it was quite a while since we visited, I thought I would make this post very short and let most of the photos do the talking.

The view across Daylesford lake


A mixture of geese and ducks surrounding the back terrace of the Lake House. I couldnt help but pull the joke that they produced their own foie gras


Gorgeous poultry

At the time I didnt think I would be starting my own blog about eating at the top 100 restaurants in the nation and hence we didnt take too many photos of the whole experience. But we did take one snap of a dish at the table. Apologies for the lack of details, I was distracted by the cute ducks quacking outside, but I'll do my best to describe what it was.

Duck two ways

At the top left hand corner it was shredded duck meat rolled into a croquette style ball sitting on a very fluffy bed of mashed potato. Below there was more duck meat rolled into a crepe. It was a very nice dish from what I remember. I plan on visiting the Lake house again, to see how they have evolved and if the ducks are still quacking. But next time I will definately be taking much more photos, that way I'll have more to blog about. 

December 15, 2008

Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons

Dining Date: October 2008

2009 Rating: 66th

2009 Star rating: 1

Chefs: Robert Marchetti, Sara-Jane Quadara & Matthew Gilroy

Location: Riverside at Crown, Southbank Vic


Being of Italian heritage, going to an Italian restaurant is not highly rated in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Italian food, but I'd much rather try something different, so when we recently visited Giuseppe Arnaldo and Son's at Crown, I had my apprehensions.

Looking at the place from the outside didn't give much away as to what was beyond the doors. We entered through the doors within the Crown complex, there is a long bar running from the door all the way along until you reach the maitre d's post. There is more than one dining area, each dimily lit, but each with its own colourful tiling, on the walls there were customers reviews written on green, red and white cards, a not so subtle way  to remind you of the colours of the Italian flag. One of the reviews seemed to just jump off the wall at me, even before we had taken a seat. It read "That was disgusting, it was YUCK!", just what you want to read before you've even SEEN a menu.

Who needs wall paper?

We were taken towards the very end of the restaurant to a small room that had 4 tables, it made for a very cosy dining experience, until the table beside us filled with very loud customers, at a couple of points the waiters didn't seem to be very attentive. The waiters were dressed in long white lab coats and I coudnt help but feel like I was still at work in the lab. 

We decided to only order mains with a bottle of red. It was getting pretty late and I dont think I could stomach a full 3 course meal. There was one thing that I did notice about the menu, which definitely made it stand out from any other run of the mill Italian restaurant, each dish had a bit of a quirky twist to it - like including some organ or served in a particular way, it made choosing a dish very difficult. Once we ordered the menu doubled as a place matt.

Menus/place matts

I ordered the Risotto “Milanese” with Saffron, Pork Sausage and Bone Marrow. Bone marrow is not an ingredient you would typically see mixed into a risotto, but I have a small soft spot for the gooey stuff. The risotto was perfectly cooked, the sausage and saffron added a sweetness to the dish and the marrow made it rich and silky. I truly enjoyed it.

Risotto “Milanese”

Daz ordered “La Tagliata” - 250 grams Char-grilled Hereford /Angus Rib Eye Sliced, Rocket, Green Peppercorns, Chilli, Spring Onions (Thanks the GA&S website!). The meat was extremely flavoursome and juicy despite that it was cut into small portions. 

La Tagliata


Our other guest ordered the Spaghetti “Arrabbiata” with Crab, Tomato, Chilli, Baked in a Paper Bag. The pasted tasted pretty good, but the novelty of it appearing at the table in a paper bag out shone the dish itself. It seriously lacked the chilli power to call it "Arrabbiata", maybe it was angry because it was trapped in a paper bag.

Spaghetti Arrabbiata

Overall, Giuseppe Arnaldo and Sons was good. The food was appetising and interesting enough to warrant a second visit, however the service was seriously lacking. I'm looking forward to finding a recipe from these guys and executing it, it will interesting adding their twists to the dishes. 

December 14, 2008

I'm tagged, but I don't have kooties...I swear!

I've noticed around the place that lots of people have been playing tag. I secretly wished someone would let me play with them, just like the old days in the school yard, but I thought I was too new to join in. The great team at Hoglet K let me play and now I'm tagged!

So I'm supposed to divulge 6 random facts about myself and then tag others to do the here goes.

Six random things about Me!
1. Up until 3 years ago I had NO nicknames, now I have several, Maz, Mazzie, Mazzarati and my favourite....MoMo
2. I'm addicted to Iron chef, and can't wait for the day when WATER is the theme ingredient
3. I once lined up at Krispy Kreme for 1 hour and 45 minutes, granted I got cool badges, paper hats and loads of free donuts, but I think that was a little excessive
4. I've seen Ross Noble at the Melbourne comedy Festival for the last 5 years straight, and I'm still confused for 70% of his show
5. After years of procrastinating, I'm finally going to learn how to salsa dance!
6. Our little kitty Romeo was left on my mum's door step in a plastic bag........and we adopted him.

Now for the Tagged!

I've only been blogging for a couple of months, and haven't quite set up a network yet. I've been secretly reading other peoples blogs and gaining inspiration from them, so I thought that I would tag some of them and hence my secret is now out in the open. In all cases I think they are great blogs!

1. The impressive duo at Where's the Beef?, who manage to find vegetarian options at every place they eat.

2. Inspiring recipes at Nourish Me

3. The mysterious super hero at The Caked Crusader, will her identity ever be revealed?

4. Edible photography at butter sugar flour

5. A fellow Maria cooking up a storm at Maria's Food Fix

6. The long established bread and honey blog "a weblog by two girls who really, really, really love food"

Rules of tagging
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules on the blog
3. Write 6 random things about yourself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up

Romeo has gone green and upgraded to paper

December 9, 2008

Christmas Pudding Icecream Cake

For anyone who is interested, Daz is doing better and is on the road to recovery.
Now, back to something important! Since Christmas is only 16 days away (only 16 days left and then I can be bad!) I thought I would do a twist on the traditional christmas pudding. Typically on Christmas day its pretty hot here in Australia, and eating a steaming hot pudding is not the most appetising thing after a heavy meal. What better way to top the day off than with ice cream!!
With this cake there are heaps of variations. After making this particular cake I thought how yummy it would be if I included some broken up christmas pudding in the mix, or some crushed short bread biscuits, you can even use a different combination of fruit depending on your taste...your only limited by your imagination. The trick with making this cake taste really good is by using ingrients of good quality. The cake will keep in the freezer for quite a while, however make sure to keep it tightly covered so crystals dont form.

So the recipe:

Makes 1 large cake to serve 8-12 people
Prep 15 minutes
Freezing 6 hours

200gm sliced almonds (toasted)
200 gm glace cherries (cut in half)
200gm sultanans
200gm raisains
brandy (good quality or other prefered liquor)
800mL cream, whipped
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 family block (250gm) of dark chocolate

1. You need to start this recipe well in advance. Combine almonds, cherries, sultanans and raisains in a medium sized bowl. Cover fruit with brandy. You may use as little or as much as you want, the more you use the boozier the cake. Set aside and soak overnight.

2. Use a spring form cake tin (20-22cm) that you KNOW is leak proof. Line the inside of the tin with glad wrap. Make sure to let the glad wrap hang over the sides, this makes getting the cake out much easier. Place in the freezer to cool.

3. Fold sweetened condensed milk into whipped cream.* Once two ingredients are just combined, divide into two separate bowls. To one of the mixtures add shifted cocoa powder and fold until combined.
4. Drain Brandy soaked fruit and add half into the plain mixture and half into the chocolate mixture. Fold until combined.

5. Place chocolate mixture in refrigerator. Add Plain mixture to cooled cake tin and smooth top with a spatula. Return to freezer. Allow to cool for 1-1.30 hours. Then add chocolate mixture and smooth top with a spatula. Cover the top with glad wrap, making sure that the glad wrap makes contact with the surface of the mixture. This prevents icicles from forming. Freeze for 6 hours or overnight.

6. For decoration around edge of cake**, melt chocolate and spread onto baking paper forming a thin film roughly 1-3mm thick. Once cooled, break into jaggered pieces. Invert frozen cake onto a cooled plate. Smooth surface of cake with a warmed knife making sure to pay particular attention to the edges. Arrange chocolate pieces around edges of the cake and return to freezer covered with glad wrap. Cut cake with a warm knife and serve by saying MERRY CHRISTMAS!

*Instead of making your own icecream, you can substitute 1 litre good quality vanilla ice cream, softened

**Instead of using chocolate pieces, you can cover the entire cake with a chocolate ganache. I've done this one before and it's REALLY yummi!

I'm going to have to make another one before christmas, I've already eaten the one I made a week ago!